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The Spoken Word With Nigerian Poet Efe Paul Azino

Efe Paul Azino (born in Lagos in 1979), one of Nigeria’s best-known performance artists, is the founder and director of the Lagos International Poetry Festival, director of the annual Book and Arts Fair in Lagos and director of the Lagos Black Heritage Festival. He has also produced Nigeria’s first Spoken Word theatre play, Finding Home. He has performed at many festivals, including the Johannesburg Arts Alive Festival, the Ake Book and Arts Festival, the Lagos Book and Arts Festival, the Lights, Camera, Africa!!! Film Festival and the British Council Lagos Theatre Festival.



In this piece, Azino thoughtfully arranges a short story that explores the topic of Nigerian politics and corruption. Despite the politically-charged nature of the subject, he presents a clear and thoughtful stance that ought to ring true with all of us. I’m not one to concern myself with political debate, but this spoken word goes beyond that.


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With every word uttered, Efe Paul Azino oozes raw energy and pain — not a self-centered pain but a pain for those around him who can’t see that Justice has been kidnapped in Nigeria.

‘Justice has been kidnapped in my country’ by Efe Paul Azino

Justice has been kidnapped in my country and nobody’s willing to pay her ransom

She was absent at the tribunal when the verdict was given,

So the marauders were declared winners,

even though we know the votes were phantom.

Chaos convulses the land,

we’re on the verge of catastrophe,

the tranquility’s been shattered,

We can’t even piece together the peace,

Justice has been kidnapped somebody please call the police!

But my friends mock my naiveté

Poets that they are,

they blaspheme,

Claiming the patriotic men in uniform are part of the conspiracy.

Justice has been kidnapped in my country and nobody’s willing to pay her ransom

When was she last seen? Errrr, I can’t remember.

She was missing in the years of IBB when Dele Giwa was blown to pieces,

She was absent when Abacha reigned and Justice Auta hit the gavel, Saro Wiwa was hung,

To hell with the critics.

Justice has been missing in my country for so long,

The 4th republic gave us a made-up version of her

But she was promiscuous and so wrong,

Worst of all she could see.

Distinguishing between foes and friends of the government ,

Working through the hands of the EFCC.

Which reminds me,

Nuhu Ribadu was acclaimed her champion, that dispensation’s faithful man.

Until wiki leaked, and we heard him sing like a canary,

Humming a different tune before the Americans.

In fact, Justice has missing since the 1st republic when Awo was thrown in prison for treason,

Since the soil in Oloibiri bled oil,

And the windfall from the boom accentuated our division.

Believe now

Justice has been lost since Nigeria was found.

A friend said he saw her at Mile 12, lately

When a pick pocket was mobbed and set ablaze, maybe

That was Justice, but I’m still not sure,

Cos I see sticky fingered politicians and officials roaming free, even on TV,

sitting in the assembly were they make laws.

Justice come home we miss you,

Justice come back we need you,

Justice we weep for everyday,

Even the Church can’t remember what you look like

Though for you they fast and pray.

Activists and youths

Tweet, blog, even march on the streets in protest for you,

But I don’t trust them, cos while their leaders get famous

I still don’t see Justice free amongst us.

I wrote a poem for you Justice,

But I fear that’s the best I’m willing to do. I guess I’m just as guilty.

Just as complicit as the politicians and Judges, the police and all of civil society,

Who speak like they love you, but won’t dare to bleed

To see you freed.

Justice has been kidnapped in my country

And for her freedom we’re not willing to pay the cost

But until she’s found

We, my people, will be lost

Justice has been kidnapped in my country

And nobody, not even you, is willing to pay her ransom.

What do you think?

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